View Full Version : Cameraman as a career?

04-14-2008, 04:38 PM
I live in the UK and I am 16. I am considering careers in the film/TV buisness.

I was wondering what someone can tell me about being a cameraman. I was watching a bonus feature on the tv show 'Lost' and was looking at life on set which seems cool.

What is involved in this job and what would I study after school if I wanted to become a cameraman?

Lastly, what salary can be expected?

Thanks :)

04-26-2008, 04:07 AM
Well I'd recommend you get some experience in stills photography, purely as a hobby, first in order to learn the basics of capturing images. You'll learn the basics about lenses, light, exposure, framing (crucial) and endless other factors which carry over almost seamlessly between photography and cinema.

If you have a passion for it, then by all means do a film related degree or something... I did. I mean it wasn't ideal, and it hasn't helped me at all and wasn't particularly 'hands on' but if nothing else it helped me focus my career.

Camera operators in the UK earn between 250 and say, I don't know, 400 a day. I'm not an operator as I'm still a baby but assistants command between 150 and 210 a day, which is pretty much the first step on the road to op. One or two assistants will work with the camera operator on set (one pulling focus) and answer to the operator and DOP. That's another good point, if you do want to be a DOP then the option to progress to that is wide open for good camera operators with a good eye.

Getting to be an assistant is achievable by two methods. The old school way is just as difficult as breaking into the industry at any level - phoning people, sending out cvs and asking to be a camera trainee on set. Sometimes these are paid positions, but only on big shoots. Take any work that comes and get to learn the kit which, due to your age and location, will almost certainly be digital.

My recommended method is to apply at camera rental houses as a kitroom assistant. It will involved driving the kit around to and from it's clients but most crucially testing the kit through and through in order to a)get you trained in it's use and b) check for problems, potential problems and damage. This is now the recommended way to become a camera assistant, and to be honest there's no reason why after a year at one of these places you couldn't go freelance as an operator or even a DOP/operator depending on your level of knowledge and wishes.

Hope this helped.

04-26-2008, 01:16 PM
I just turned 18 in march. When I was 16 I did an internship for a small commercial. Internships are amazing experiences. I highly recommend that you do as many as you can. You develop so much hands on experience, and at the same time make so many new contacts. New contacts means more work. During your break and lunch, sit down with the cameraman and talk to him/her! They love to educate younger guys on their jobs. Get their card, so you can contact them if you have any questions in the future.

You should be in high school now, immerse yourself in everything revolving around film. Im a senior in highschool now, but I took every class possible revolving films. Drama, Video Production, Film Analysis, and Theatre. I even started a film club.

Also, do your own "homework". I spend a few hours each day reading on the internet. Or go to your local book store, pull a chair and read books on things you are interested in.